How do you make resolutions (i.e., develop convictions) about your life to live with integrity in a culture that wants to squeeze you into its mold?
Nebuchadnezzar’s University of Babylon (UofB) was not a nice place for a young Jewish boy to live and go to school. But Babylon was where Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego found themselves as a result of Babylon’s defeat of Judah sometime around 600 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar not only destroyed cities in triumph, but he took the best people he could find in each culture to enhance the status of Babylon. He was building a sort of super-culture by absorbing the best of the best, bringing them to live in the capital city, giving them an education, expecting them to immerse themselves in the culture, and serve the king responsibly during their captivity. To get an overview of these four young men’s lives, read Daniel 1-6.
Daniel 1:8-16 describes how Daniel and his three pals responded in a situation that called for compromising their convictions. Verse 8 says Daniel determined not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, but asked for permission for the four of them to only eat vegetables and drink water. God caused the supervisor to show favor to them and they were healthier and better nourished than the other students. God also blessed their academic studies and prospered them.
Daniel 3:1-30 described how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to honor and obey God when faced with an ultimate test. King Nebuchadnezzar had built a 90 foot statue of himself in pure gold, demanding that when the music started, everyone must fall down and worship the image of the King. The penalty for not complying was being thrown into a blazing furnace.
Many who are familiar with this story often focus on the miraculous deliverance. But the three colleagues of Daniel had no idea what would happen when they refused to bow down to the golden image created by Nebuchadnezzar. They said to Nebuchadnezzar, “If we are thrown into blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
Did they believe that God could deliver them? Yes. Were they assured that He would save them from death in the furnace? No. They had decided to obey Him regardless of the outcome.
Do you have that kind of conviction/obedience? Or do you expect God to guarantee your safety and prosperity if you stand true to Him? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego placed themselves in God’s hands and left the outcome to Him. Daniel did the same in chapter six when he told to stop praying to His God three times a day or risk being thrown into the den of lions. Those are the kinds of examples of spiritual courage that inspire us to remain true to God – rescue or not. They also ironically, resulted in job promotions for Daniel and his three college buddies.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not resolve to change the world. They decided to walk faithfully with their God, away from home, their families and friends, and in a strange land. Yet their faithfulness resulted in a transformed culture. Think theologically. Are you willing to obey the invisible God you serve who is able, or capitulate to a visible professor or supervisor who claims to have power over you? What furnace will you face if you remain true to your convictions? Are you willing to trust and obey Him…even is He does not rescue or deliver you?
Love is a verb,